Budget conference: Lawmakers wrap justice budget talks, including $645M for new prison

PRISON STOCK PHOTO (11)
The Senate had initially proposed spending $5 million more for a new facility.

Budget negotiators have reached a deal on how to spend state dollars on criminal and civil justice, including a plan to set aside $645 million for a new correctional institution.

In a budget offer submitted and accepted Tuesday morning, lawmakers agreed to a one-time installment for architectural and engineering services, land purchase, site preparation, construction and construction management. The funds would be placed in reserve until the Department of Corrections (DOC) submits a plan for the spending.

Lawmakers would give DOC until Jan. 6, 2023 to submit their design proposal and construction plan to the Legislative Budget Commission to unlock the funds.

The Senate had initially proposed spending $650 million for a new facility, while the House’s original budget proposal did not include any spending.

The Senate’s lead justice budget negotiator, Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry, last week told reporters the spending would put DOC on the right track.

“It’s critical,” Perry said of the need for new prisons. “We have some facilities that look like the Green Mile when you walk into them.”

The House, led by House budget chief and Panama City Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull, also agreed to the Senate offer to spend $195 million on a 250-bed hospital unit. Perry, the Senate, and top Senate negotiator and Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel initially had asked for $400 million to construct two hospital units.

Additionally, lawmakers agreed to spend $33.9 million on private prison operations, the Senate’s original ask for that purpose.

The House and Senate previously had agreed to spend $50 million to construct a courthouse for a new 6th District Court of Appeal. On Tuesday, the House agreed to Senate language detailing that the courthouse will be named the Oliver L. Green Courthouse and located in Lakeland. The planned namesake, former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Oliver Green, died in August in his Lakeland home.

Lawmakers have until the end of Tuesday to finalize the budget in order to pass it by the scheduled end of Session. Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel and her House counterpart, Jay Trumbull, say the budget will be presented by that deadline.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.



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